Do Not Replace

So much that gets broken seems to not be able to be fixed. Even if you have some skill, some electrical and electronic goods just seem engineered for obsolesce and replacement. Which is really cluttering up land fill. And even as we are exhorted to feng shui and declutter, a third of that stuff is probably non-recyclable plastic destined for dumping somewhere not close to home. Even recycling and up-cycling have limits. Because we have guests coming for Christmas…actually because Christmas’ consumer frenzy is on the horizon, this orgy of waste and disposal in the design is preying on my mind. Even people who don’t horde have so much STUFF! Me included. In some ways we are lucky to be able to compost our food and garden waste, but there is still a fair amount that two people send to land fill each year. We consciously try to minimise it, but still…this is one part we all play in climate change.

Do Not Replace

I hate that supermarkets cradle

organic pears in styrofoam.

What’s a bruise between it and me

(or my gut)? After all, it will

Eventually compost down

Except for the plastic wrap

Which won’t biodegrade into

the sort of crap that makes roses,

that feed the bees, who pollinate

the peas and corn, the olive trees.

You can’t eat plastic or gadgets

that break and are sealed so no one

can fix them. So the replacement

cycle goes on. Until we stop

pretending plastic doesn’t end up

in a dolphin’s gut, exported

to somewhere poor where people live

quite literally off waste dumps.

So if it breaks I want glass or

wood lemon squeeze instead of tat.

I won’t replace the next bust thing-

Microwave or coffee grinder.

Just do not replace. It’s not like

we are really doing without.

Copyright Bee Smith 2018

Angel Bat

I love my friends. I love how images can collide and quirkily meld and be alchemized into a poem. This is a very rough draft at best. It’s daylight now, so the bats are at rest. But time for some poetry practice and to exercise my bizarre little brain.

And you two will know who you are, my bright sparks both near and far.

Angel Bat

Winged night angel

Hitching a lift, a mortal whiff

Inside this delicate

Mammalian body

Who can also fly

Answering to the

Sonic chatter. Listen!

It recalls some previous

Incarnation before the Fall.

It comes as some angelic

Call to action

Answering need or plea

A kind of soul sonar

So that those wandering

Can bump into each other at night

Bats decay so delicately

Tiny bones and voile membrane

They are mistaken for

Fairy skeleton

Proof of their existence

Transubstantiated

Fairy, angel or bat

With a swoop and squeal

A shift in their shape

Just like that!

Copyright Bee Smith 2018

About the Weather

climate change

Perhaps because I was talking about the haiku kigo, or seasonal word yesterday to the primary school kids, weather is on my mind. (Kids, rain in Ireland is like the evergreen tree; it is with us always. We need to be like Eskimos and have more than one word in our vocabulary to indicate the variations and grades of rain in Ireland – like mizzle, a fine mist, raining stair rods, etc.) But I digress from the point of today’s poetry practice. Weather is on one of the lists for gratitude. But perhaps because I am feeling a tad chilled and kind of Kermit the Froggy, I am more under the weather than feeling grateful for it.  At any rate, I woke sneezing and then decided I needed to try a new poetry form to mix it up.  I found a wonderful web resource for up to 86 kinds of poetry forms to try on for size at http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/list-of-50-poetic-forms-for-poets

So I decided to try out the decima, a ten line poem with a rhyme scheme. You get a bonus poem today, because there are two variations, one from Latin America/Puerto Rico and the other from Italy. Both are composed of ten lines with each line having eight syllables. The rhyme schemes vary.

First up is the Latino version.

About the Weather

If, like me, you shun dawn mornings

and need caffeine intravenous

to face the new day, its brashness…

If, like me, you look for warnings

(since shepherds and sailors are bust,

employed elsewhere earning their crust)

meteorologists will have

their job’s worth reckoning to salve

worries about cruellest winds’ gusts.

Copyright © Bee Smith 2018

But since I am also concerned for those Californians living in the Bay Area and Los Angeles who are experiencing terrifying wildfires, I wrote this. My friend in San Jose reports that even though they go out with breathing masks against the smoke, there is no protection for the eyes, that are smarting from the poor air quality.

CaliforniaConflagrations

Where there is fire, there is smoke.

Where there is fire, there is ash.

It consumes, belches, then it chokes

the life from what is in its path.

Something shall survive, I suppose,

phoenix-like – that mythological bird

who can rise and rise above all

mass destruction, landscape altered.

Earth, too. Turned to fireball.

And this was the fate human’s chose.

Copyright © Bee Smith 2018

Meanwhile, Nero fiddles while climate change burns.

Featured image: Photo by Matt Howard on Unsplash

Dawn to Dusk Haiku

May not have mentioned it, and you wouldn’t need to otherwise know unless you stayed with us,  that I am not a morning person. I need to have a gentle run at the day- say two hours- before I fully have the power of speech. So if I am facilitating a morning workshop I need to get up way earlier because I am definitely not a hit the ground running sort of person. I also reserve that gentle ingress into the day for poetry practice. Given that I was due at the local primary school for 9:30AM, I felt I should spend some quality time with pen and paper beforehand. Because I have been doing this poem a day for over two months now, I was worried I might get ratty with the wee darlings (who are only nine to twelve years old after all) unless I did some poem creating.

Now here it is coming up to sunset before I am anywhere near able to post. Since the workshop was on haiku writing and mindfulness, I limbered up this morning with some.

Dawn Crack

Phone alarm goes off

It’s dark. And chilly

Pull the duvet up!

Pinky mauve fingers

Stroke dawn’s azure sky

Wooly weather. Wrap up!

And, just to round out my day after workshop and life laundry…

Dusk Chorus

Wind down the day

A pink in the west

Last chance for grub at Bird Café

Copyright Bee Smith 2018

Naming

I am rather preoccupied with life laundry and workshop planning. I drafted a poem first thing, but the process has been interrupted by tasks away from the keyboard. So I am now proceeding to get the post out and poem re-drafted during my 4pm slump. (I was born this way. My mother could never get me to nap on Dr. Spock’s schedule . BTW he was the Boffin author of a 1950s Baby Bible and nothing to do with Star Trek schedule. I routinely flaked out 4pm and an elder sibling would be tasked with rousing me for supper at 6pm.)

So this post and poem will probably reflect a certain tiredness without benefit of nap time. Also, feeling a bit rushed. Which will also be the case tomorrow. What I need is an Ivory Tower and a self-cleaning house. Oops, that sounds a tad Mrs. Cranky. Better get on with it!

Naming

First, it is tree.

Upon further acquaintance

With the silver and gold glimmer on bark

Its rough and smooth

Shine and shadow

The cycling through bud, leaf, flower

Does it fruit?

Then we get properly introduced

And on a first name basis

Because Alder is not Ash

Despite having catkins

Hazel is not Willow

(Who sometimes goes by Sally)

The orange flare in Rowan’s red berry

Is not the red of a September haw.

Frost turns a blackthorn’s sloe

 Shade of Midnight Quink

I could crush the Elder’s berries juice

And write my name with it

A name is not just an arboretum label

With its Latin alias, too

A name is a kind of destiny

The beginning to a

Knowing intimacy

That goes far beyond tree

Copyright Bee Smith 2018

Angst

angst

Angst might seem an odd subject in a month when one is supposed to be counting one’s gratitudes. But it goes back to words and language, including ones that in some cases are an ancestral mother tongue. I have an intuitive grasp of language and spoken word, rather that strict prosody. I wish I was more fluent in a second language, but I am probably too slap dash and amateur for that. 


I did, however, study German, much of which I have forgotten. The genetive case went way over my head. But I do treasure the vocabulary I still retain. Today’s poetry practice includes that as part of the wider theme. It also probably reflects what many people world wide have felt during 2018.

Angst

German is a really great language

for philosophic disquisition.

(And no, I didn’t just make that word up.)

Their compound words act as Iapetus’

belts when realities collide. Atlas

shoves them together. Rhapso sews the seam,

making the perfect compound nouns for Being

and Non-Being, all states betwixt between.

I know that staring out the window kind

of uncertainty. The glass is bevelled

by heavy rain.  The sky has gone white

that is  a non-light. The sun is moon glow.

The ground could shift any minute out from

underfoot. But not yet. Their word for it –

angst– has much more fear and tremble in it.

It has the rumbling groan of shifting earth,

moving one’s being towards non-being.

Then comes Prometheus’ destroying blitz.

Copyright© Bee Smith 2018


Featured image: Photo by Stefano Pollio on Unsplash

Lesson in Art

If there is such a thing as reincarnation, I am putting in a bid that in my next lifetime I come back as a visual artist. I have an eye as they say, but the coordination with my hand is just lacking. Well, my sight ain’t great either after a bout of rubella at age eight.  But one of the magical memories of my childhood was going on visits to art museums, in particular the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. I am not sure why we never made it into the one in Philadelphia on visits to my siblings at college in the suburbs. But that has become an ingrained habit to visit art museums in the cities and towns I visit or live in. When in Leeds, I would sometimes visit the Leeds City Art Gallery  on my lunch hour and do a bit of writing on a bench inside. On a lay over in Chicago I hot footed it to their Art Institute before catching my train.

And while the Louvre left me strangely unmoved (perhaps I was over-tired seeing as I had slept top to tail in a single bed with a college buddy when there was a problem with our reservation.) I have rarely been so moved as by the Vincent Van Gogh’s in Amsterdam.  Washington, DC was a playground  during my own college years, with so many riches acquired by the Smithsonian. London’s Portrait Gallery drew me back again and again on rainy Sundays.

I first saw Andrew Wyeth as a print hanging over the piano in my childhood home. I next saw his work in a retrospective at London’s Royal Academy. Later, I was able to visit the Wyeth collection in Chadd’s Ford. Likewise, Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party was first viewed in an article in MS magazine. I saw the real thing in London’s Islington in a venue whose name I no longer remember. That installation has a permanent home now in the Brooklyn Museum. I have been back two of three times since.

I suppose I am a bit of an art pilgrim. And I do give thanks to those philanthropists who decided to give back by endowing museums and donating collections. Sometimes robber barons do things that can redeem some of their greed.

So, today’s poetry practice returns to free, or open, form.

 

Lessons in Art

 

 

In terms of scale and scope-

height and breadth and depth

of light and shading –

those are never captured

in the postcard bought in the gallery shop.

 

Which I would take home as relic

nonetheless.

 

Similar, but not quite the same

to the driftwood, pebbles and shells

brought back from an outing to the beach

once the sand had been brushed off.

 

There I had been conversing directly

subject to object

with Creation’s mind

for a moment.

 

There it met with

human hand and heart.

That was the lesson in the art museum,

the difference between

 

studying something from a plate in a book

and then standing before it.

 

The hush and awe being in

the cathedral of creation

knowing the theory of the existence of angels

and feeling them brush past you,

the proof of their wings.

 

Copyright © Bee Smith 2018

 

Today’s featured image is Snowfall at Slimasaku, by Utagawa Hiroshige. It is one of the thousands of Open Access, Public Domain images that the Metropolitan Museum of Art has released online.  I encountered haiku and Japanese print art around the same impressionable age.